Creekstone Press

Northern BC's publisher

Creekstone Press Publications

The Rosemary Suite

Description: Trade paperback, 8.5” x 9.5”, 128 pages, b & w drawings throughout

ISBN: 0-9684043-5-9

Price: $24.95

Wife, mother, artists’ model, gardener, librarian, museum assistant, yoga instructor … Rosemary Hauswirth, of the Kispiox Valley in northern British Columbia, was in the midst of a full and fulfilling life.

Then, in March 1994, while helping artist Leslie Barnwell hang a show, Rosemary received a telephone call advising her she had breast cancer. “I could see her face change to ash,” Leslie wrote several years later. “When she hung up, she just stood there, stunned. We held each other for a while, crying.”

The phone call signaled the start of a new dimension in their long friendship, and in their individual lives, one in which Leslie would add the art of emotional and physical support to her visual and literary accomplishments, and Rosemary would struggle to rise above fear and the spectre of death.

“She lived her last years with uncommon courage and awareness,” according to Leslie. “Her body may have slowed down but her mind and spirit remained active and growing until the day she died.”

For seven years, when apart or together, Leslie recorded her friend’s journey in both verse and prose “not to create a book, only to help myself along the way.” Yet Leslie’s art, while a source of strength for her, was also Rosemary’s legacy, a tangible inheritance to accompany the memory of love and kindness bequeathed to her husband, children and friends.

“When I read to her some of the poems I’d been writing,” Leslie says, “she made it clear that she would be happy if those words were shared.”

The Rosemary Suite, illustrated with drawings made over the course of the women’s friendship, is the beautifully crafted realization of that wish.

Read excerpts from The Rosemary Suite